Upcycling – cardboard wall shelf
- Cost10–20 €
- Duration1 hour + time to dry
Add a little something extra to your living room with a creative cardboard wall shelf! Upcycling old shipping boxes gives them new life and therefore protects the environment. Our step-by-step tutorial shows you how to easily make this modern shelf out of cardboard. Let your creativity run wild and transform your living space into something extra special with this DIY project!
It should go without saying that your safety is paramount throughout every step of the project, so make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. You can find everything you need to know about the correct protective clothing you should wear when using each type of tool in our overview.
Let's go - step by step
Upcycling – cardboard wall shelf
Add a little something extra to your living room with a creative cardboard wall shelf! Not only will it be eye-catching, but it will also offer practical storage space for your favourite books, decorations or plants. In our step-by-step tutorial, we show you how to make this modern shelf out of cardboard.
Preparing the rear panel
Have you got everything you need? Then let’s get started. First, place the biscuit tin on a piece of cardboard. Use a pencil to draw an outline around the exterior of the biscuit tin in order to mark out the curve you want for the rear panel (image 1).
Tip: Depending on the thickness of the cardboard, it’s recommended to either use several layers or to sufficiently reinforce the cardboard in order to achieve the optimum thickness of about 1 cm.
Now, you’ll determine the height of the rear panel. To do this, use the Bosch Zamo with the tape adapter and place it at the widest point of the circle (on the left or right). Use the tape adapter to measure out a distance of 25 cm downwards in straight line and mark this point with a pencil. Then, connect the marked point with the edge of the circle and perform these same steps on the opposite side. To work precisely and get an exact right angle, you can use a long squared timber and a book or a small board (see image 2).
Finally, connect the two lines at the bottom to mark out the base for the rear panel.
Cutting out the rear panel
You need: box knife or scissors, Old cardboard/shipping boxes
This step is about cutting out the rear panel. To do this, you can use a box cutter or scissors to precisely cut out the outline you previously drew on the cardboard. Proceed carefully in order to get a clean result.
If you plan on building several shelves, you now have the option of using the prepared rear panel as a template. Place it on another piece of cardboard and cut along the outline to create additional rear panels for your planned shelves. This allows you to efficiently produce multiple wall shelves that have the same design.
Assembling the side panels and base
Now it’s time to prepare the side panels. Place the Bosch Zamo on the edge of the cardboard and use the tape adapter to make sure it is 100 cm long (see image 1). Now, use the tape adapter to measure out a width of 15 cm at two points (see image 2), mark the points clearly with a pencil and connect them – a long piece of wood is the best aid for doing this. From this line, measure off another 15 cm to mark out the second side panel to reinforce the first. Now carefully cut out both strips.
Once the two side panels are prepared, you can proceed with the base. Two rectangles are needed or this. Use the Bosch Zamo’s tape adapter again to measure the width (15 cm) and the length (30 cm) and mark the spacings accordingly (see image 3). Then use a box cutter or scissors to cut the cardboard to the precise dimensions.
Connecting the rear panels
You need: Wood glue, Masking tape, Rear panels
Now let’s do the next step: gluing on the rear panels. First, take the wood glue and apply a generous layer to one of the rear cardboard panel cut-outs. Then, join the two rear panels by placing one atop the other and press them firmly together. Put masking tape all around the edges as well to ensure optimal stability. The masking tape serves as additional support to ensure that the rear panel remains stable during the drying process.
Connecting the rear and side panels and base
You need: scissors, Masking tape, Rear and side panels, Base pieces
Now it’s time to attach the back and side panels to one another. Take the first side panel and slightly bend the cardboard in the middle so that it easily fits against the arch of the rear panel. Then, fix it in place with masking tape to ensure a sturdy connection (see images 1 and 2). The side panel’s dimensions have been generously calculated so that it slightly protrudes at the bottom. Cut off this overhang on both sides so that it is flush with the rear panel in order to get a seamless look (see image 3).
In the next step, attach the first rectangle for the base. Place it at the bottom of the rear panel in the lateral position and fix it to the side panel. You’ll use the masking tape again for this too. Tape it to the cardboard across the corners to make a strong connection.
Finishing the base frame
You need: Wood glue, Masking tape, Rear and side panels, Base pieces
Now it’s time to put the second side panel around the base frame and glue it with wood glue to get the desired thickness and stability for the shelf. Make sure that the side panel fits snugly and that there is a firm connection. Use the masking tape again to fix the side pieces in place and keep them stable during the drying process (see image 1).
After this is done, we’ll work on of the base. Attach the second piece of cardboard to the shelf from below, cut off the overhang and fix it in place with masking tape as well, taping it across the corners (see image 2).
To get an even surface structure and to smooth out any potential gaps in the cardboard, we recommend that you use masking tape around the entirety of the shelf to hold it in place. This ensures that the glue is able to dry without any complications and that the shelf’s surface is even.
Painting the shelf
You need: Paint, Paintbrush, Shelf base frame
The shelf is now in its final stages: paint it with whichever colour you like and let it dry thoroughly. At this point, you have the opportunity to give free rein to your creativity and design the shelf according to your personal taste.
Here’s a special tip to achieve a unique look: add baking powder to your paint. Mix some baking powder into your paint to get a powdery consistency (see image 1). This gives your shelf an unique, interesting touch that makes it a real eye-catcher in your living room.
Take your time in order to apply the paint evenly and make sure it dries completely.
Attaching the wall mount
You need: screwdriver, Shelf, Sawtooth hanger
You’re nearly done! Now it is time to attach the wall mount to the shelf. Take the sawtooth hanger and position it at the top centre of the back side of the shelf. Use screws to securely fasten the sawtooth hanger to the shelf.
Make sure the sawtooth hanger is securely and firmly attached so that it can easily support the weight of the shelf and its contents.
Positioning the shelf
You need: Atino line laser, pencil
Now you can start precisely aligning your shelf. First, decide where you want to hang the left shelf. Attach the Atino line level to your wall at the point you’ve chosen and align it until the red laser line points horizontally to the right and the LED lights up green (image 1). Once the Atino is perfectly aligned, you can mark the first mounting point in the centre of the hole in the Atino (image 2). Then, pull the tape measure out horizontally and mark out the spacings you want between the shelves with a pencil while moving the tape measure along the wall. You can do this to mark all the mounting points for the shelves (see images 3 and 4). In this project, we went for a spacing of 40 cm.
Make sure you draw in your spacings evenly and according to your ideas. This will give you a symmetrical shelf arrangement that fits perfectly with your living room.
Hanging the shelf
You need: hammer, Shelf, Sawtooth hanger, Nails
You can now securely attach the shelves to the wall using the mounting points you marked out as a guide. Use a hammer to drive the nails firmly into the wall at the marked points and make sure they are stable and securely in place in order to support the weight of the shelves.
Now hang the shelves on the nails via the sawtooth hangers. Check the shelves’ alignment and make sure they are straight and symmetrically positioned.
Now your homemade shelf is all done! It can now take pride of place in your living room and gives you the opportunity to embellish it with vases, plants, holiday souvenirs and other decorations. Give free rein to your creativity and arrange your shelves according to your personal taste.